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Table of Contents

Jan 2004

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Cover Story

Features

Today's students are used to state of the art video technology. Offer them anything less in the classroom, and you'll catch them staring out the window in a hurry. Yet with budgets tight, buying the best presentation tools for your classrooms is quite a challenge.

Because bomb threats are real in many schools across the nation, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Department of Education recently joined forces to offer a CD-ROM with one comprehensive plan as well as a Web site that district leaders can use to get the latest stories and resources regarding such threats.

Solutions

Dennis Leone didn't initially intend to play Robin Hood when he heard rumors of excessive spending at the State Teachers Retirement System office in early 2003. But once this Ohio superintendent realized the extent of the pension board's decadence on the backs of retirees, he gladly accepted the role.

As soon as Principal Renita Perkins saw the teacher's tears, she had a pretty good notion about what was wrong.

At the teacher's prior school, affluence and two-parent homes were the norm. On the flip side, Nashville's Cumberland Elementary has mainly disadvantaged minority students. Perkins had discussed this potential problem with the teacher when she hired her.

But now, here she was, at her wits' end over two difficult students in her fourth-grade class. Their behavior had crossed the line into physical fighting.

Schools in isolated rural areas and inner cities are the hardest to staff, particularly those

serving minority or low-income students, according to recent data. Teachers in special education, math, science and foreign languages are especially needed. Shortages are greatest in the Southeast, Southwest and the West. With No Child Left Behind putting greater emphasis on having "highly qualified" teachers in every classroom, the competition among districts for teachers is likely to intensify the problem and present a challenge for rural districts.

Briefings

Large District Leaders Back NCLB

In Small Town USA, No Child Left Behind looks more like a foe than a friend. But most big city leaders think it's a reasonable challenge.

Departments

As No Child Left Behind marks its second anniversary this month, the wide-ranging law is facing its toughest criticism. I've both praised and criticized the law already, so this month I'll comment on how it is being perceived by superintendents, presidential candidates, and the public itself.

Meet Frank Smith? No Thanks

As a longtime reading teacher, the December 2003 article, "Meet Frank Smith" (page 41) by Gary Stager dismayed me.